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Issue No. 01 - January/February (2007 vol. 9)
ISSN: 1521-9615
pp: 3-5
Norman Chonacky , Yale University
In this, the beginning of a new year, I want to ring out the old and ring in the new. We bid good-bye to some editorial board members who have served CiSE well. I've thanked them personally, but I'm publicly acknowledging here our gratitude for their service. We've also added some new members to the editorial board. As you might recall, I told you last year at this time that normalizing our board appointment processes and rebalancing its membership to better reflect our readership and content were my highest priorities.
News is now a full-fledged department with Rubin Landau as its first editor. Café Dubois is now a specialty opinion piece, independent of the Scientific Programming department that Paul Dubois edited for so long. Our former editor in chief, Francis Sullivan, has launched The Last Word as another specialty opinion piece in a similar vein. The Technology Reviews department has become Technology, reframed by new editor Jim Myers as a showcase for important new or timely information technologies and technical practices relevant to computational science and engineering. The Book Reviews department resurfaces in the next issue with a new editor, Mario Belloni, who has reframed it with a different system for identifying and producing information about new publications.
In choosing department editors, I've taken the initiative to identify coeditors, one of whom could operate from a physical science perspective and the other from a computer science or applied mathematics perspective. Because many of our editors, like our readers, operate in multidisciplinary venues, such a division is somewhat arbitrary; nonetheless, this effort exemplifies my attempts to rebalance content so that it's useful and interesting to the widest possible spectrum of our readers.
Two years ago, a reader survey revealed that we'd experienced a fall-off of interest in CiSE within the physics educational community. This was a red flag for me, given the strong support that our predecessor— Computers in Physics—had from this group. In this past year, I've taken the temperature of this community to establish where CiSE might play a useful role. You might be aware that, as a magazine, CiSE has a license to advocate for selected topics and issues—for example, we solicit many of our articles. So when my "thermometric" investigation revealed that computation in undergraduate physics education was problematic, I resolved to take further steps to help the cause.
As I've reported here before, the Education department editor (David Winch) and I commissioned a survey whose results revealed the distribution and character of computation currently used in physics courses around the US. This helped us identify active and creative faculty, from some of whom we solicited manuscripts for our September/October 2006 special theme issue. This publication, as well as discussions at meetings where we've presented its material, have raised CiSE's profile considerably within this community and have stimulated the interest of physics educators to once again read the magazine.
As a follow up, we're also supporting efforts within our domain of action to help this community move forward with its own agenda—increasing the integration of computing by instructors into their undergraduate physics courses. In keeping with our mission, we want this group to be as inclusive as possible. If any physics faculty reading this haven't had the opportunity to see and respond to the survey, please visit We invite you to add your input to our database of current computational practices in undergraduate physics courses and benefit by participating in this community.
Finally, we're introducing yet another innovation in this issue that we hope will be useful. In addition to the convention of a theme—anatomical rendering and visualization—and its related articles, we're beginning a second, longitudinal thematic track in this same issue—computational research for the International Polar Year. Its guest editors, Uma Bhatt and David Newman, offer their introduction here and present the lead article for the series. The remaining five articles in this track will appear over the entire 2007 calendar year, one article per issue. We're entering this track theme as an experiment to see whether it offers advantages in usefulness to the reader. Let us know what you think. In the meantime, look for the IPY logo on the cover of each of these track issues, a continuing reminder to you about what's inside.
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